Greens on Screen’s first page was published in January 1999. Its early purpose was to bring Plymouth Argyle a little closer to those unable to see their team, and whilst it has changed a great deal over the years, its core themes - sites and sounds for Westcountry exiles - still stand. The site was very lucky to take on the content of Trevor Scallan’s Semper Viridis in the summer of 2007, and in 2009 launched GoS-DB, a wealth of facts and figures from PAFC’s history. A year later we embarked on a complete history of Argyle, with much-valued contributions from chapter authors.
Greens on Screen is an amateur website and proud of it. It is run by one person as a hobby, although there have been aspects of the site over the years that would be much the poorer without the had work and much-valued contributions of a small band of volunteers.
Greens on Screen is self-taught and as a result, a little bit quirky. Amongst a few stubborn principles, advertisements will never appear (and don’t get me started on the plague of betting promotions on other sites). It began its life before many others, including the club’s official site, when there was a large gap to be filled, and although there is now a wide variety to choose from, GoS’s sole aim, to be a service to fellow supporters, still seems to have a place.
A Round-up of Argyle News
Argyle News Sites:
Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
David Norris could be set for an international call-up by the Republic of Ireland. Norris has been sounded out about the possibility by Ireland manager Stephen Staunton and said: "I spoke to Steve Staunton in May and he asked me if I would like to play for Ireland. I said 'yes I would'. I think he wanted me to go on the trip to America, but I was away at the time when he called. It was two days before they left. He just said: 'We have got a friendly coming up in August, we will sort out all the paperwork and maybe look to call you up for that'. That's what I have heard of it. Hopefully, I will get a call-up. All of my mum's side of the family come from County Kildare, but I never really thought anything of it. To be honest, when you are coming through the lower leagues you just think international squads have all got Premiership players in them. But maybe I'm closer than I thought. Playing international football would be another step up for me. I would be absolutely over the moon to make my debut, and I'm sure my family would be as well. I'm not assuming I'm definitely going to get a call-up. He knows I'm interested and might just keep an eye on me now. I'm trying not to get excited, just in case it doesn't happen this time, but it would be nice if it did."
Ian Holloway believes Argyle could not be better prepared for the new season after their training camp in Austria. The pre-season tour ended with a gruelling training session on Saturday morning and the players had to do a series of timed short and long distance runs while wearing heart monitors so their fitness could be fully assessed. Holloway was thrilled with the outcome of what he admitted was a very tough test. He said: "The energy they have given and the way they have worked for each other and with each other has been absolutely superb. That is probably one of the hardest sessions anybody could ever do, and in testing conditions, and they did it brilliantly. I can't ask for much more really. Now we have got two weeks to get ready and then with, each game, you see what happens and it gives you other things to work on. But that's the bulk of it done and I'm delighted with them. When I was watching them running around on Saturday morning without their shirts on, you can see a huge difference from this year to last. They are starting to look like athletes." Argyle drew in both of their games in Austria, and Holloway said: "It's disappointing we didn't win, but we tested ourselves against two very good opponents and came away with loads of positives. I still think one or two of the problems we had last season are still evident at the moment and we have got two weeks to iron that out. One is marking from set pieces and we need to win long balls onto our back line." Holloway worked closely with Tim Breacker, Des Bulpin and Paul Maxwell when putting on the training sessions in Austria. "We know what we want to do, we started it at home and it has been a continuation here," said Holloway. "What I have to say is the people here have been absolutely brilliant. It has been as smooth as clockwork. Everything we have wanted we have managed to get. The surfaces have been superb, and the gymnasium we have used is great. I'm very pleased with all the players. Obviously, that doesn't guarantee you results when the season starts but we couldn't be better prepared if we tried." Argyle are considering an invitation to visit Poland next summer, but if that idea comes to nothing Holloway would be happy to bring his players back to Loipersdorf. He said: "I don't think I have ever been on a pre-season tour where it's so well organised and the games and the training and the hotel are so close together. We'll have to think about it, but I'd have no complaints if we came back."
Argyle won their final five fixtures of last season with a strikeforce consisting of Barry Hayles and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. The good news is that both men are being put under severe pressure for their places in the starting line-up, and Ian Holloway has plenty of options. Nick Chadwick and Rory Fallon have both done their best to stake a claim, and Holloway said: "I think Rory linked up play very well on Friday. I've got to get him on the move though. For me, too many times at the moment a long ball comes towards him and someone nips in front of him. If he's reading that long ball right, he should be moving before that defender, but it's only little bits that we need to work on. I like how physical Rory is, I like how I said something at half-time against Tel Aviv and he went out and got a few free-kicks for us. We've got to sharpen up on that. The Israelis did it brilliantly." Chadwick is now fully fit and is looking to force his way into the manager's plans. "I've been really impressed by Nick," Holloway said. "I haven't seen him for a long time, and I've really loved what he's done. I think he's an honest and hard-working boy." Argyle flew home to England yesterday, and Holloway is looking forward to having extra assistance on the training ground this week. Gary Penrice will be back from his travels to work with Fallon and Chadwick and the other forwards. "I'm anticipating getting Gary in to work with my strikers," Holloway said. "I'm looking forward to that, because he knows how to cure one or two things when I've been focusing on other things. I feel a lot better having Gary and Tim working with me, and I think you can see that. I was trying to do all sorts of things last year, and it was really awkward. Having all my staff on board lets me concentrate." The progress Argyle have made in the last year was evident in the two games they played in Austria, and Holloway added: "We didn't look half bad, but whether that's good enough for the Championship we'll have to wait and see."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Hapoel Tel Aviv in yesterdays friendly, the goal scored by Akos Buzsaky. Argyle: Larrieu, Gosling, Kouo-Doumbe, Timar, Hodges, Barnes, Norris, Summerfield, Halmosi, Chadwick, Hayles. Subs – Laird, Seip, Buzsaky, Connolly, Nalis, Dickson, Fallon, Reid
Ian Holloway was in a satisfied mood following Argyle's draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv. He said: "Our nemesis from last season is still showing. First, we missed a header and gave a foul away and then we got done with a header at a set piece. So, we have got to sharpen up on that. After that, I think we were absolutely terrific. We moved the ball nice and sharply." Argyle started with Nick Chadwick and Barry Hayles in attack, and Ashley Barnes on the right-side of midfield. Hapoel coped easily with the system so Holloway made alterations, firstly moving Barnes up front with Hayles with Chadwick behind the pair of them. Then Barnes was replaced by Akos Buzsaky as Argyle experimented with a diamond formation in midfield. Holloway said: "We had to switch because the people I had out there didn't really suit them. I thought the switch caused them all sorts of problems and, if you look at the possession, we had a lot more than them. Barring a great save by their keeper from young Danny Gosling, I would probably be stood here talking about a win. It was a great effort from the boys, and a bit of a learning curve for them as well. I brought Ashley off because he lost his temper. I told him what they would be like and they did it. They didn't surprise me, but what did surprise me was our reaction. What you have to do at any sort of standard is get the first one in and then they retaliate. Unfortunately, we got mugged off a little bit by that. But never mind, we are professionals and we kept going. This tour has been about football and fitness and I have to say it has been very successful for those two reasons. I think we are looking fitter and I have given all sorts of young people a chance to play against good opposition. They will just tuck that in their top pocket for experience and I have been very pleased with a lot of them, to say the least."
Former Norwich City striker Paul McVeigh will start a trial with Argyle next week. Ian Holloway said: "Paul McVeigh will be with us by next Tuesday for us to have a look at. He's currently out of contract. I think he's an honest, hard-working boy and on that right-side I might need someone else who can do that dual role if we get injuries. I want to have a good look at him."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was sidelined by a thigh injury for Argyle's draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv last night. Ian Holloway said: "Sylvan hit a shot in training this morning and felt his thigh, so we had to leave him out of it." Gary Sawyer was also not involved, having returned to England yesterday to be the best man at his brother's wedding today. Holloway said: "Normally, I let them do things like that because I value people's families, and they normally give me a bit extra back. I hope he has had a safe flight - and his brother owes me, doesn't he?" Romain Larrieu played the whole of the game against Hapoel, with Dan Gosling and Lee Hodges the only others to complete all 90 minutes. Gosling and Hodges will be excused from this morning's training session, but the rest of the squad will carry out their final workout before returning to Plymouth tomorrow. Gosling will soon be off on international duty with England, and Holloway said: "We wanted Gos to get a full 90 minutes under his belt before he goes off with England. I'm ruing the day he's doing that because he's looking very good. He's very composed and he always looks like he's going to make the right choice."
Paul Wotton admitted it had been nice to escape from the miserable weather at home. He said: "Whatever job you do, whenever you wake up in the morning and the sun is shining it puts you in a good mood. It's good to get some training in at a decent altitude and in the heat, although it's important we stay hydrated. No matter what the weather is like at home, inevitably on August 11th it's going to be roasting. It normally is, so it definitely stands you in good stead. The food at the hotel is great and the rooms are great. We get looked after very well. The swimming pool, spa and gym are first class and the main training pitch is very good. So in terms of a pre-season training camp, I think you would struggle to beat it."
A year ago, Ashley Barnes had just left school and was preparing for a season with Paulton Rovers, but now he is enjoying Argyle's pre-season tour in Austria. Barnes found it hard to believe that, all of a sudden, he was a professional footballer when Argyle brought him to Home Park in March. "It didn't sink in, to be honest," he said. "I didn't have a clue what was happening. It was just like a dream come true. The move came about really quickly. There was interest from other clubs, but I turned them down and kept playing for Paulton. The next minute Plymouth came along and I was playing for them." Before joining Argyle, Barnes made the decision to reject an offer of an apprenticeship from Cardiff City as he wanted to wait until he was old enough to sign a professional contract. "That what was definitely what I wanted to do," he added. When he was with Paulton, he was attending school in the daytime and training two evenings a week. Now he is having to become accustomed to full-time training. "It was a shock at first, how hard it was," he said, "but I think I've taken it in my stride as it went along. It's getting better every day now, which is good." Barnes' target this season is to make his first-team debut. "That's my ambition," he said. "My first target is to play first-team football, and then to progress and get a regular place and try and help the club win honours. I enjoyed those reserve games, and I just want to score more goals for the club." Ian Holloway has never been slow to put his faith in teenage talent, and Barnes added. "He's absolutely brilliant to work for. He's always encouraging you, and the other coaches are really good. I can't say anything bad about them, they're superb." Barnes has also been made to feel welcome by his new team-mates. "The lads have been superb, they've been very welcoming," he said. "That's what I liked about coming to this club. They weren't pushing me over to one side. I was worried about it a little bit at first, coming from such a small club, but they've been brilliant to me." Barnes has not always been a striker. "I started out in goal when I first played the game at school," he said. "Then I moved into defence and midfield, and when I arrived at Paulton they stuck me up front and I stayed there." Barnes is relishing the prospect of playing against his old team next week, when Argyle visit Paulton to play a friendly match. "I'm looking forward to that," he said. "I keep in touch with the lads there, and it will be great to see them."
Argyle's under-18's lost 4-1 to Liverpool's under-18 side yesterday, the goal coming from an own goal. Mike Pejic said: "We were quite good despite the result and I was very pleased with the overall performance. We've come a long way in a short time."
Argyle take on Hapoel Tel Aviv tonight and Ian Holloway will pick his side from the same players he used in the draw against Genclerbirligi on Tuesday. But he said: "It will be a completely different starting line-up. The ones who came on as substitutes the other night will play the majority of the game. Luke Summerfield will start instead of Akos, Lee Hodges will be in for Lilian Nalis and Ryan Dickson will start instead of Halmosi. It will be that type of thing. We are trying to make it so that they will have all had the same amount of minutes in these two matches." Argyle have been staying in the same hotel this week as the Israeli side, but there has not been much contact between the two sets of players and coaching staffs. Holloway said: "We don't know too much about them to be honest, but from what we can find out I think they will be a bit higher standard than the Turkish side, who I thought were very good. So it's going to be another tough test for us." Holloway had been thinking about going on a scouting trip to France with Gary Penrice today but is now expected to stay with the squad in Austria. He added: "The game the other night has really sharpened us up, but that's down to the training as well. I was stood watching them at training yesterday and I was very proud of my team, and my off-the-pitch team. They are giving me what I want and it all feels very good."
Paul Wotton has admitted he 'can see light at the end of the tunnel' as his recovery from his knee injury nears a conclusion. He said: "I have been doing everything, other than tackling. At the moment, I'm non-contact. That just means the lads can't tackle me and I can't tackle them. But they are pressing and closing me down and I'm pressing and closing them down. The one thing left to do is to go into contact. I'm absolutely thrilled with how it has gone. We had pencilled in this week to maybe get into a few keep-balls, but things have gone even better than we thought. I have been involved in some eight-a-sides, as well as crossing and finishing and some shooting exercises. My body is still getting used to doing it all again but, touch wood, the knee feels rock solid so to say I'm thrilled is an understatement." Wotton spent virtually all of the close season in the gym at Home Park working on his rehabilitation with Paul Maxwell. He said: "You can do as many weights as you like, and as much running as you like, but you can't really recreate what you do in a game. I have had a few aches and pains but it's nice to feel them. It's great to be back out there and part of it, although not fully. To be honest, I don't feel too far off the pace. I have worked unbelievably hard with Maxie and the stuff I have done with him has obviously stood me in good stead. I have had a couple of really good weeks of fitness work." Wotton is still reluctant to put a timescale on when he could be ready to make his comeback, but it does not seem to be too far away. He added: "Maxie and I have spoken about having between a week or two of non-contact. Then I would like to maybe get another couple of weeks of full contact in and then it's just gearing up towards a reserve team game, or a behind closed doors one. Maxie and I will have to see how many of those games I need before I can say to the gaffer I'm ready for the first team. But I can definitely see light at the end of the tunnel now. It seems like forever since I last played a game, but I have recovered very quickly. Some people think all I had done was an ACL reconstruction, but I didn't. I tore my medial ligament as well and my cartilage had to be repaired as well. It's 26 weeks after the operation so, in terms of what I'm doing now, it's phenomenal really. It has been, and still is, a long, hard slog and I'm going to have to do leg weights and stuff for the rest of my career, but that's a very small price to pay."
Ian Holloway wants to tie up new deals with key players who are out of contract next summer as soon as possible. He said: "Everybody who's going to be out of contract has done very well for us. We are going to have to look at that and make sure we get it all tied up. I have got to see how we start the season. I know what they did for me last year and I want to push on. I'm looking at the first couple of months as being absolutely vital. I don't want to get rid of anybody but what we might have to do is play swap shop if we can't keep someone happy. They might feel their future is somewhere else, and I might feel their future is somewhere else. I'm going to have to be up front and try to plan a year in advance. Last season, I only had four players out of contract so I inherited quite a neat scenario. This year it's a very big number and could spell trouble. If you look at the bigger picture, there are some players who have gone for a lot of money this summer who I don't think are as good as our players. The lad Barnett from Luton has just gone to West Brom for £2.5 million and I find that hard to believe. It's nothing against the kid at all, but that's a non-Premiership club paying £2.5m for a youngster. I can't understand it. I think the whole market is going crazy, so how much does that make some of my players worth? But what you can't do is have them running out of contract because you lose the power, so it's a balance. I believe our company is moving forward and the last thing I want to do is sell our best players. But if they are running out of contract I'm going to have to look at it and either nail them down quickly or sell them. All I will say to our fans is that I'm not in a place where they are looking to asset strip. I felt that was the case, at times, when I was at Bristol Rovers. We sold our best strikers all of the time. How can you do that? The challenge for me at Plymouth is how much further can we go? I'm a little bloke with a big job to do."
Ian Holloway is giving Reuben Reid every chance to fulfil his potential with Argyle. Holloway believes that he could turn into a very good player - but Reid's progress has not been unblemished during the past 12 months. "It's a learning curve for Reuben," Holloway said. "He scored a goal the other night and he created some chances. He's been creating chances in training as well. Now he's got to show me plenty of enthusiasm. When he's enthusiastic, the world is his oyster. But when he starts moaning, he drags some of the team down with him. He has to cut that out, and he also has to learn that he might have to break into the team in a different position. A Championship club is likely to have a lot of centre-forwards, so what he's going to have to learn is how to play out wide. If he shows me the attitude he's showing me at the moment, then I'll keep giving me the chance to play out of position and I know eventually he'll end up up-front."
This time last year, Romain Larrieu was coming to terms with having to conquer testicular cancer, but now is glad to be back on the football field. Larrieu missed out on Argyle's trip to Austria last summer because of his illness, and is savouring his first experience of the facilities available at Loipersdorf. "It is a brilliant place," he said. "It has been hot, but the organisation has been first-class. I have been really enjoying it. We have been doing a lot of training, and the boys are looking very fit. We have reached a level of fitness that I can't remember us reaching before, because of our training regime. We have to benefit from how fit we are, and we saw that happen on Tuesday, when we finished very strongly. That has helped us before. One of the reasons we got out of the division below the Championship was because we always finished games stronger than anybody else." As well as fitness, team spirit has played a crucial part in Argyle's progress since Larrieu arrived at Home Park in 2000. "We know each other," he said. "We were all here last season, and that helps." Larrieu recall the facilities Argyle had to make the most of on the training camp in Scotland shortly after his arrival. "They were not bad trips, and at the time we were happy to get away from Plymouth," he added. Larrieu is now looking to stay fit and to be given the chance to compete with Luke McCormick on equal terms. "I am looking forward to that, and I am not really putting myself under any kind of pressure," Larrieu said. "I feel fit, which is fantastic, and there are still a few friendlies to play. It is up to me to keep showing what I was trying to show the manager over the last few months of last season, that the illness is behind me now and I am ready to go again." Larrieu played throughout Argyle's win at Cambridge United last Saturday and will play in this afternoon's game against Hapoel Tel Aviv. "It was good to play 90 minutes last weekend, and I am looking forward to tomorrow's game," he said. "I really, really feel good. I feel like my body has absorbed a lot of work in this pre-season period, and I feel great."
Ian Holloway is furious with Ipswich Town after the Suffolk club revealed they had tried to sign David Norris. Holloway insisted Ipswich had not made an offer for Norris, although he confirmed they did make a verbal inquiry. Ipswich manager Jim Magilton had said: "I spoke to Ian Holloway about Norris but was rebuffed. It went to board level, but Plymouth made it clear he was not for sale, so that's the end of it for now." Holloway was not impressed that Ipswich had spoken publicly about Norris, and said: "Until an offer has been made and accepted, and a medical has been done, you shouldn't talk about other people's players. With the greatest respect to anybody at Ipswich, if they are doing that they are bang out of order. If they admire some of my players that's great, but they shouldn't talk about it in the papers David Norris signed a new contract last year and he was very happy with it. With the greatest respect to Ipswich, I'm sure there are a lot more people interested in David Norris who are better placed than them. My answer to Ipswich is that I should be trying to buy their best player because we finished above them last season. So I strongly consider they should keep their nose out of our business and conduct what they want to do in a more professional manner." Holloway does not want to sell any of his most prized assets but accepts there may be a time when that is good business for the club. He said: "I find it hard to believe that we haven't had cash offers for any of our players - we haven't. Ipswich have rung up and we have said the player isn't for sale and he's not running out of contract. They shouldn't be telling anybody about it. I have told Chuck 'I want to get you in the Premiership, son' and he knows it's genuine. I would be chuffed to beans if someone rang up about him from the Premiership because I believe he deserves to play there, but I believe he can get there with us. I have moved him up to where I think is fair. I don't think too many people will pay him a lot more than he's on with us. I haven't got too much of a problem with that, and I'm sure he hasn't at the minute. He's progressing and his football is getting better. But what's horrible about this game is that certain things can get in your head and it stops you performing." While Argyle have no intention of parting with Norris, other Argyle first-teamers could find themselves in a different situation sooner rather than later. Akos Buzsaky and Mat Doumbe are both out of contract at the end of the season, and Holloway does not want to see them or any of the club's other assets leave on a free - as Tony Capaldi did this summer. If Holloway finds out that any of his squad want to leave on a free, he will try to sell them before they can do so. "That might have to happen," he said. "If we can't come up with contract offers that are suitable to them, then we'll have to try and sort some business out. Our company cannot let the Capaldi situation happen again. He's still very friendly with a lot of people in our dressing-room, and he's going to be telling them how much he's earning. If that turns their heads, then I'm going to have to deal with it. I'm going to have to make some tough decisions, if other clubs are interested in our players." Holloway knows that Argyle will find it hard to compete in financial terms with many of their rivals for the foreseeable future, but he will do his best to maintain a strong playing squad - even if there have to be changes in personnel. "I don't want to get rid of anybody," he said, "but we might have to play the swapping game if we can't keep all our players happy. Some of our players might feel that their future is somewhere else, and I might feel the same about them. I'm going to have to be up front, and try and plan a year in advance. You're never happy about selling your best players, but what you have to do is weigh up the whole situation. You can't have players running out of contract, because then you lose the power, so you have to nail them down quickly on long contracts or sell them, but what I do want to say to our fans is that I'm not at a club which is looking to asset-strip - and we haven't had cash offers for any of our players."
Dan Gosling is still coming to terms with what has happened to him in the last year. "I never imagined anything like this," he said. "The first time I travelled with the first-team squad back in the autumn, even though I didn't play, was an amazing feeling. I couldn't describe it. Finally I got on the bench, and through an injury I got on. I did myself justice, and it carried on from there." Gosling is most at home in central midfield, but most of his first-team football has come on the right of midfield or, so far this summer, at right-back. "I've only had about 20 minutes in the centre of midfield," he said, "but I get a lot more time out wide and I'm enjoying learning to play out there. I like playing right-back, and it's good for everyone if I can put a bit of pressure on Paul. It helps the team if I can play there." Most of Gosling's England appearances have come at right-back and he has relished representing his country. "It's been brilliant," he said, "and it will be unreal if I get to play in this World Cup. Taking on Brazil will be exceptional." The only negative aspect of the trip to Asia for the under-17 World Cup will be spending so long away from Home Park. "I'm a bit gutted about that," he added, "but you can't say no to England. The FA have priority. If I don't play much for England, my fitness will probably drop, but I'm taking a training programme out there with me. I'll have to do that, if I don't play. Fingers crossed, I'll come back all right. It would have been ideal if the World Cup had been in the close-season, but I'll just have to make the best of it." Most of Gosling's England colleagues play for Premier League clubs and have yet to taste first-team action. "A few of them have said they'd rather play for Plymouth's first team than Chelsea's youth team," he said. There has been speculation in the national media that Gosling could be on his way to the Premier League sooner or later but he is happy at Home Park for a while yet. "I get told about what's in the papers, but I don't take much notice of it," he said. "I'm certainly happy where I am."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Genclerbirligi in last night's friendly in Austria, the goal scored by Reuben Reid. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Seip, Sawyer, Norris, Nalis, Buzsaky, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs – Saxton, Barnes, Laird, Hodges, Timar, Summerfield, Gosling, Dickson, Chadwick, Fallon, Reid
Ian Holloway was very pleased after the draw with Genclerbirligi yesterday. "It is an away draw in Europe against a very good team," he said. "It was good test for us and I thought they were sharp, they were bright, they moved it well and we had to step our game up a notch, and we managed to do that, particularly in the second half. I was very pleased with the way we won the ball back off them and we went chance for chance against a very good team. If you look at the average age of the team we had out in the second half, I had to pinch myself. It was absolutely fantastic and some of them were bursting with enthusiasm." Holloway reserved a special mention for Lloyd Saxton, who replaced Luke McCormick in the closing stages and made a superb late block to keep the scores level. Holloway said: "I put young Lloyd on and he showed the composure to make the right decision when they were clean through. Romain will probably play on Friday but I don't like giving goalies only 45 minutes, so I will probably bring Lloyd on again. Romain has got a slightly sore thigh and Luke has got a sore knee. We brought Lloyd here; he has done ever so well in training, so I gave him a go. It is all about experience and Lloyd can say that he came on when we were 1-0 down and we won his little bit 1-0. They all appreciated the fact that I put them on against decent opposition and it was a learning curve for them. Gosling looked class. Lairdy has played three different positions for me and been absolutely superb. We are looking sharper and we were very unfortunate not to get more goals in the second half. I am very pleased with my lot. The opposition were getting more tired, so we put freshness and enthusiasm on. It was great for Reuben to score, although it was probably the worst effort of the whole second half. I don't know how it went in but he still had enough nouse to cut inside and hit it. We ended up with four centre-forwards out there and a left-winger playing centre-midfield, so I am delighted we got something. I think we deserved something from the overall performance. We have got another game on Friday, which will probably be even tougher than that. One or two of us could have been a little sharper and it was nothing like Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's best day at the office but, with Chadders breathing down his neck and Rory coming along, I am not that bothered." Holloway praised the small contingent of Argyle fans who made the trip. He added: "It is great to see these fans here and I have never seen anything like it. They are absolutely brilliant."
Argyle's youth team lost 2-1 to Saltash United last night, the goal scored by Josh Grant. Argyle: Misiewicz, King, Watts, Moult, Hodgkinson, Kendall, Edwards, Duggan, Grant, Mason, Smith. Subs – Chenoweth, White, Gerring, McCrory, Hopkinson
Reuben Reid continued his impressive pre-season last night and Ian Holloway is delighted with the enthusiasm He has shown. Holloway said: "He created four the other night. We scored four from his passes and he has done it again tonight. He is one of those that has got to show me the enthusiasm because the world is his oyster when he is enthusiastic. When he starts moaning, he can drag others down with him. There is more to it than getting the ball and that is what he has got to learn. When you are a young footballer, you might have to break into the team in a different position, especially if your position is a solid position, like a centre-forward." Another young striker who did a good job on the wing against Genclerbirligi was Ashley Barnes and Holloway may now give them both the chance to show what they can do up front. He added: "If Reuben keeps giving me the attitude he is showing me at the moment, then I will keep giving him the chance to play out of position and then he can move back up front. I will now give him and Barnes a chance up there. In the meantime, I thought they were both very bright and dangerous. Some of the things Barnes did looked like a seasoned professional. He was really bright, really sharp, so well done son."
Dan Gosling has been selected for the England squad for the Under-17 World Cup in South Korea next month. Ian Holloway admitted that it will be a blow to lose Gosling and appealed to the England coaching team to pick him on a regular basis. Holloway said: "My honest reaction is why have I got a kid in or around my first-team at the moment who is going to be taken away to a tournament where he probably won't even play? He has not played on a regular basis for them. He has been sub, and I would like to see the players who are better than him in that team. I am delighted for the boy to get some recognition from his country but how he is not starting in that team I do not know. I would like to see 11 players better than Dan Gosling, bearing in mind he can play right-back, right-midfield or centre-midfield. I would like to see the players who are better than him. I see him day in day out and unless their training is different to ours, which I doubt, then why can't they recognise how good he actually is. If he is going to go there and play, then I have not got a problem. I have not got a problem with him being picked because I am not allowed to have a problem." Holloway is also concerned that not being fully involved may be detrimental to Gosling's general fitness, an issue that Gordon Bennett has come across before. Holloway added: "All I will say is that, if you are going to take him, please play him because he will at least come back fit, but there is obviously also a risk of him getting injured. If he is in the squad but not in the starting line-up, then there is a risk of him not being fit enough when he gets back to us. Gordon Bennett has flagged these problems up because he had this before when he was at Norwich. A player called Andy Johnson was in the Norwich first-team and he was taken away but hardly played, and it took two months to get him sorted. The last thing we want is that but, for Dan's personal progress, well done son. It is something I never did because I was never good enough."
Argyle's first day at their training camp in Austria was interrupted by Football Association drug testers. They took samples from four players, who were chosen at random. Ian Holloway said: "It seems quite a waste of money, doesn't it? Surely they could have done it after our game at Cambridge rather than over here. But their job is to turn up and surprise you, and they have certainly done that. We have complied with all that we were asked of by them and I'm sure everybody will be fine." According to Holloway, the drug testers visit to Austria was solely to check out Argyle. He added: "It seems an extravagant waste of money. They have come over here and are going back today."
Ian Holloway is expecting a tough encounter when Argyle play Genclerbirligi tonight. The Turkish side have played three games during their current tour to Austria, including a 3-0 defeat by Arsenal in Bad Waltersdorf last Thursday. Holloway said: "Pat Rice told Des Arsenal should have been 3-0 down. Genclerbirligi started really brightly and hit the post once, but Arsenal still managed to beat them 3-0 in the end. You never know what you are going to be up against, but it's another good test for us." Holloway revealed Argyle could have played Real Madrid while on tour for the second successive year. He said: "We almost got Real Madrid again, apparently. They did not want to play a top team, but luckily for Stoke, they got that one. Maybe we gave them too good a game last year."
Lee Hodges is relishing the challenge of preparing for the new season, and is enjoying a return to Austria. "It's good to come back," he said. "We knew how nice it was, and the weather is great too compared to home. It's good bonding. There are a few players who weren't here this time last year, and it's especially good for them. We're a good bunch, and we all get on well." The priority though is definitely work, not play. "We're only halfway through our first day and we've had two hard training sessions already," Hodges added. "We haven't come over here for a nice little jolly-up. We've come here to work as hard as we can to get ready for the first game of the season." Hodges confirmed that Argyle's training this summer has been tougher than ever before. "The manager wanted us to get even fitter this year," he said. "We've been timing what we've been doing, and the times are even quicker. Everyone has come back fit, and we're all pushing hard and looking to be as fit as possible." After last season was interrupted by two knee injuries and a hamstring problem, Hodges is hoping for better luck this term, and has worked hard all summer to make sure that he starts the new campaign in peak condition. "I've been at Home Park almost all summer," he said. "I went away for a two-week holiday with the family, but apart from that I've been working to keep fit and I feel like it's paying dividends. Pre-season is hard and I do struggle at times, but this year I feel a lot fitter." In the friendlies so far, Hodges has played at left-back and in central midfield. His versatility is a bonus for Holloway and if Gary Sawyer, or any of the club's midfielders are unavailable then the manager knows that Hodges is ready to play his part. "Gary is doing a brilliant job at left-back," Hodges said. "If I'm needed to play there, I haven't got any qualms about it. I'll fill in and I'm happy to do so, and it's the same in midfield. The games I've played so far this summer, I've felt really good. I can get around the pitch." Hodges knows that Argyle will find it tough to improve upon last season's 11th-place finish, and added. "To break into the top ten will be hard, but we've got a good settled squad and, if people do go out, we've got players who can come in and take their places. Ollie is giving everyone a chance, and what he wants to get across to everyone is that, if we know what we're doing on the pitch and we're fitter than everyone else, then we have a chance of doing something in this division. Year after year, since I've been here, we've improved. Everyone expects us to break through into the top ten now. Deep down within ourselves, we know what we can achieve, but I don't think we need to go around shouting about it. As we've always done, we'll go out and play each game and give it our best shot."
Cherno Samba has been placed on the transfer list by Ian Holloway. The striker has not accompanied the squad on their pre-season tour of Austria and Holloway said: "I have asked Cherno to get his agent to find him another club. He has got another year with us but I can't see him progressing at the moment. I have got some young lads coming up who he is in the way of at the moment. I believe I need to make some room for them. I've got Ashley Barnes coming through, and he's here with us. When we took him this time last year we were very short on the ground and it was a worthy gamble. I like people to know where they stand with me and, if he can't progress, then I would like him to go somewhere else. He is wasting his time trying to show me what he can do. He needs to go to another club and try to show a different manager. Hopefully, he is already training with someone else and he can get his career going because I have given him a free transfer. Every player you ever sign wants to be a success for you. They want to get in your first-team and get a much better contract, and Cherno is no different. You have to be upfront and deliver it in a way you would like to receive it yourself, and I always try to do that. All human beings need to know where they stand. Once you have got that, nothing wobbles and everything is solid as a company. The fact is we are a Championship side trying to get to the Premiership and the top echelon of English football. Careers change and Cherno has done nothing wrong." Asked if Argyle had received any approaches for Samba, Holloway added: "Not at the moment, no. It's down to his agent to find him some trials. Cherno is a great lad, but I just want him to move on. I'm only trying to be fair to him."
For Nick Chadwick and Paul Wotton the rigours of a pre-season tour will be the norm. Both have been daily visitors to the Home Park gym, as they continued their recovery from long-term injuries. Chadwick is now relishing the chance to prove his fitness. He said: "I have just enjoyed being amongst the lads, training and playing. Eight months is an awfully long time and I am enjoying it at the moment. I am enjoying playing football with my mates and I think that is coming across out there on the pitch. I am pleased with how things have gone but I am still touching wood. I had a thigh strain two weeks ago and I have to be careful about picking up little niggles along the way because it has been so long. Wottsy's injury was obviously well publicised and a bad injury, whereas mine has been more drawn out. It has been tough but it is part and parcel of football. Some injuries are instantaneous and some will be drawn out like mine. We could never get to the root of the problem and we eventually needed an operation. I had inflammation on the groin and it was a serious injury. It would never seem to go away and I ended up having an operation to release the pressure in a tendon near the pelvis. Our injuries coincided and I think Wottsy has said before that we both helped each other get through the summer and the bleak times, and now we are both here in the sun. It is a relief and enjoyable to part of things again. The long term objective has been in the forefront of my mind throughout my time out. It has kept us both going. We don't want anybody to feel sorry for us. We were in the gym for four hours a day, every day. Some people might say that we get paid well and we should be doing that, and rightly so. I am not here to whinge about things but it is sometimes nice to get away after a long season and spend some time away from the club. We did not get the chance to do that and we were in every day, along with the kit man Scott and physio Maxi, who has helped us through. It was tough but we are not going to cry about that. We did it for ourselves in the end. We want to be part of the club and part of the team." Chadwick also revealed his relief that they made it to Austria in one piece after a nervy flight from Stansted. He said: "We got here safe and sound, which is all that really matters but it was not an ideal start to the week. I have not experienced that before where he has come down and aborted the landing on a couple of occasions, and it was quite scary at times. He obviously opted not to land in the end." The following morning the squad set out on a gruelling run around the hills of Loipersdorf. "It was nice to get started and everyone has been looking forward to getting under way," said Chadwick. "After a long day travelling, whatever we did was always going to be a bit tough. It is not a nice run but it is in the bank. The heat is something we will have to deal with while we are out here. It makes things a little bit tougher on us but that is why we are here. It is a training week and all the lads are excited about getting fitter and sharper." The next step for Chadwick and his team-mates is the friendly against Genclerberligi. Chadwick added: "I can't recall playing against teams from Turkey and Israel. I am looking forward to any game and the two games this week are obviously going to be tough and I think they will work us hard. The weather and the pitch will also make it tough but I am looking forward to any game at the moment."
Argyle's friendly against Hapoel Tel Aviv will now be played in the village of Dietersdorf. The game was originally due to take place in Rudersdorf but has now been switched to Dietersdorf, which is only a mile from Argyle's team hotel. Kick-off time remains 6.30pm local time
Ian Holloway is happy with the way his squad's preparations are going for the start of the new season, but he is still keen to strengthen and admitted he may miss the final few days of Argyle's Austrian trip to check out players in France. "Gary Penrice is trying to get me over to France next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which I may have to do," said Holloway. "There is a lot happening over there. I would be able to see 16 games in three days and nearly everybody involved is free. So, I may just have to go and do that."
Ian Holloway was pleased with his side's performance against Cambridge on Saturday, particularly in the first half, but admitted there may be some serious shooting practice done this week. "We'll get our shooting boots on over in Austria and see what we can do," he said. "It was quite a good game. I enjoyed it. I thought there were terrific performances from both teams. We got a lot of things right in the first half, but did not capitalise on the times we won the ball back. I then made a few changes so we had less experience second half, particularly in the wide areas. And I have to say I was a tad relieved to get the second goal because the game could have gone either way. They scored a great equaliser and we got a little bit over tired and over anxious. I am looking for us to get a little bit sharper up and around the final third as we weren't quite incisive enough." Gary Sawyer suffered a head injury when he jumped for a header just before half-time on Saturday, and needed three stitches in the wound, but he was still able to travel out with the squad to Austria yesterday
Argyle's bid to give a trial to a Bayer Leverkusen full-back has been rejected by the German club. Ian Holloway had been hoping the unidentified defender would join up with the club in Austria
Ian Holloway has set David Norris the task of scoring more goals than he did last season. Norris was on target against Cambridge United on Saturday and after the match Holloway said: "He's a very talented boy. I have asked him to score more goals than he did last season. I think he got six last year and two the year before, but who knows what he is capable of if he really started to believe in himself and in his finishing. He could easily get into double figures. But he is a terrific lad and the keeper made some fantastic saves from him." Argyle's other goal on Saturday came from Cambridge-born Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Holloway said: "I don't know whether he was too happy that I didn't start him, but I don't care where anyone comes from. It's nice to go back to places, but this is about us and pre-season. But Sylvan took it in great spirit and actually struck a goal." Argyle have less than three weeks before the new season starts, and Holloway added: "Before you know it you will blink and it will be here. But that's what we all want. Pre-season is just like a bull fight before the matador's in there. It's all pretence. I guarantee you every single manager wants to start the first game. What we are gearing up to do is get our players physically and mentally ready for a 46-match campaign in the championship and to get more than 67 points which we got last year." Holloway admits Argyle's pre-season training programme is now switching from fitness to shape and pattern on the field. "We will be working on team shape now," he said. "It's now a lot more about pattern and structure." Holloway believes Argyle's pre-season fixtures this year are tougher than last summer's. "If you look at it we have upped the standard," he said. "Last year in Austria we had one fantastic game and in the other we did well and scored a few goals. But this year we have two unbelievably tough games. I am expecting us to have to work hard to stop them scoring, which is a different scenario. We are going to be underdogs. It was always going to be a tough pre-season with them and the all the local derbies."
The Argyle squad were caught up in a mid-air drama on their flight to Austria yesterday. Their jet was caught up by high winds as it came into land in Graz and after two attempted landing had to go to another airport. Reporter Rupert Metcalf said: "After a somewhat turbulent descent from cruising altitude, the packed plane made a sharp turn prior to landing, and that was when things started to go wrong. The aircraft lurched to the left and then to the right - and then soared upwards again after giving up trying to reach the single runway at the small airport of Graz. When the plane had returned to cruising altitude, its passengers were informed that high winds had caused the problem. Another attempt was made to land at Graz about ten minutes later, from a different direction, but again the conditions were deemed to be too dangerous and the aircraft soared skywards once more just moments before touchdown." The passengers were then told that the crew were giving up on Graz and were heading for Klagenfurt, 80 miles to the west, where the plane landed safely 25 minutes later. After cancelling last night's training session and giving his players the night off, Ian Holloway said: "I've never been on a plane that's done that before. I don't want to use the word scary, but it was surreal. We were coming into land and it seemed like the left tip of the wing almost touched the floor, and then the pilot tried to correct it. We were all thinking: 'Wait a minute, this isn't right'. Everyone had a look around, but no one said anything, and then we just started accelerating up and away again. When we did it a second time and off we went again, all I can remember thinking was: 'I hope he doesn't do it a third time'. When the pilot told us we were going somewhere else because it was too dangerous, I thought: 'Thank you, Lord'. But then, I started thinking: 'What if we can't land? How much fuel has he got?' There was a huge sigh of relief when we hit the Tarmac, I can tell you." Although some passengers were unwell because of the turbulence and the tension, the Argyle players seemed none the worse for the experience. Holloway added: "I think the lads have got over it quite well, but a little girl behind me was sick. It wasn't very pleasant, but everyone is safe. That's the most important thing."
Argyle's youth team won 2-0 in a friendly at Charlton Athletic on Friday, the goals scored by Toby Davis and Joe Mason. Gordon Bennett said: "It's only pre-season but the boys did perform better than they did at Fulham and fully deserved their success."
Argyle won 2-1 in this afternoon's friendly at Cambridge United, the goals scored by David Norris and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Timar, Seip, Sawyer, Norris, Nalis, Buzsaky, Halmosi, Fallon, Chadwick. Subs – Reid, Hodges, Summerfield, Kouo-Doumbe, Laird, Gosling, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles, Dickson. Attendance - 1,508
Bojan Djordjic will miss Argyle's Austrian tour with a foot injury. Ian Holloway said: "It's disappointing for Bo, but we're keeping him here as a precaution. He's going to do a fitness programme back here. I did say he could go home for a week as it's difficult to keep players mentally sharp when everyone else is getting fitter. I feel for him but I'm sure he'll be fine." The rest of the squad travel to Austria after today's friendly at Cambridge United, and Holloway added: "It'll probably be 45 minutes for everybody - they're all my players, they're all my squad. Basically, I'm assessing what I need for the rest of the season. They are out to impress me every single minute of every single day." Travelling with the rest of the Argyle party will be Romain Larrieu and Nick Chadwick, who had been slight injury doubts. Also on the flight will be apprentice goalkeeper Lloyd Saxton, but Holloway is not expecting the youngster to figure in anything other than the training games within the squad. He said: "Ro's OK, but we're going to be taking the young goalie just as an insurance policy. He'll be extra useful in our small-sided matches - I don't want to go in goal, that's for sure. But I'm sure Romain will be fit, he's just got a slight stiffness where we've been doing some extra work in training. I'm delighted for Nick Chadwick who has battled hard to get fit over the summer. I'm delighted he's got no knocks and the more games he gets under his belt the better he'll get. It will be nice for him to get a run of games without any injuries - he certainly deserves it as we know he can score goals." Holloway insisted he did not know which new faces Gary Penrice had arranged for him to run the rule over as trialists whilst on the tour. He said: "I won't know until I get there, really. I'll be looking to strengthen the squad throughout the season - but I don't think I'm going to be throwing money at people. I'll struggle to better what we've got." Holloway believes the whole squad will benefit from their week at the training camp in Loipersdorf. He said: "Yes, we're looking forward to it - it's a wonderful venue. We went last year and the training facilities and everything went like clockwork. However, we've got to pay for our own hotel this year. It's a shame Real Madrid didn't fancy the fixture - I reckon they're a bit afraid of us. The place has great memories for me. I took over last year and therefore it was a special trip as it gave me the chance of getting to know these players. As for the friendlies, I don't know much about Genclerbirligi but Hapoel will provide a very tough test for us. And then we've still got a few games when we get back, but the one we're really focusing on is Hull City away. We finished in the top half of the table last year, but this year we want to be better than that - we want to push on."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has admitted that it took him a while to settle with Argyle and added that he was looking forward to his second season with the club - although he declined to set himself any targets. He said: "I am definitely enjoying myself - I feel like I'm settled. Moving was quite a big thing - it may seem easy if you read about it in the papers, but it's not always that simple. I found it a little difficult to start with - I was living in a hotel and I felt I was being distracted by what was going on. It also took a while to adapt to my new team-mates. Now, though, I've got a house down here and I am settled." Sylvan has developed as the main strike partner for Barry Hayles and said he was learning from Argyle's top scorer last season. He said: "I look to him for his experience and just having chats with him off the pitch really helps. You have to have his attitude to play at the level he has for as long as he has and he's good for the squad to have around." Ebanks-Blake is not setting himself any targets for the new season, and added: "I don't really set any targets for myself as such for the season. If I get five goals, then I'll try and get 10 - I can set myself further targets as I go along." Ebanks-Blake feels Argyle have a good squad to contest the new season - although the club does not have the cash to match the spending of other clubs. He said: "We went up to Sunderland at the beginning of last season and beat them. They went and spent £5 million and beat us down here and you could see the difference. We have got a good squad here, which has been together for a little while and it's easy for new people to be integrated. There's a good team spirit and whatever the gulf is, we will still go out onto the pitch and try and match them."
Ian Holloway has set his sights on taking Argyle to the Premiership. "I believe we can get in the Premiership," he said. "Everything I am doing, everything my staff is doing, everything we are trying to do as a board and as a company, is geared towards getting to the Premiership." Holloway admitted that the Championship was not a level playing-field, , but believes Argyle have what it takes to overcome that handicap. He said: "If you look at where we were last year, who's above us, who's come down, and if you look at the finances they've got, you have got to look at it in realistic terms. We're at a disadvantage before we start, but, in saying that, I believe spirit comes from within a human being and I believe we have got fantastic spirit. I believe what we are trying to do is beginning to reap benefits. If we can get an extra few percent out of each one of our lads, if I can get my scouting network to get things right and anybody we borrow or bring in realises what we are trying to do at Argyle, if they can buy into the passion of the fans, which is absolutely undoubted, then who's to say we cannot get there? I believe we have got to do it soon because the gulf between all those teams that are getting that money and us is growing. I am very impressed with the structure we have got in place. I could talk for hours about what we need, and we've got most of it in place. It's an ongoing thing. The more professional we can get, the better it is going to be. I don't look for quick fixes. I look for long-term stability. My record proves that - five years at two different clubs. I'm expecting to do that here and outlive it by a long time because I want to build a football club which has a structure, which has a conveyer-belt where people will be brought in, worked on, and made better. I've had some rough diamonds in the past and I've buffed them up and they have gone on to much, much better things. I've had to love them and let them go. I fully anticipate that some of my players might do that before Argyle get there; if not, they will take us there. What we do need is a bit more time because young players take time to develop - young players need good senior players to be shining examples and I don't think ours could have any better." Despite the rest of the pre-season matches, Holloway has only one game on his mind - the season opener on August 11th. "The one we're all focusing on is Hull City away," he added. "We are going to try to get everything right for that. It's another year in the Championship and we have got to put our marker in the sand. Last year, we had a good cup run, didn't flirt with any sort of disaster, were in the top half of the table most of the year, and finished 11th. We want to be higher than that, we want to be better than that, we want to be pushing on. Let's see if we can get to 50 points as quick as possible and then push on and see what our target is after that. I'll be looking to strengthen the squad throughout the season, if and when needed. I don't think I'm going to be throwing money at people, simply because I will struggle to better what we have got. I'm looking and waiting, and assessing my group at the moment. Do I let some of my young lads go out on loan and bring someone in? I'll have to wait and see. Onwards and upwards."
Nick Chadwick cannot wait to get back to first-team action. Having featured for 20-minutes at Yeovil on Tuesday night, Chadwick followed that up on Wednesday evening by scoring twice in Argyle's 5-0 win over Liskeard Athletic. "It's nice to be back playing and to get on the scoresheet," he said. "I know it's still early days and I'm not counting any chickens just yet. This was only my second run-out since November, but I'm feeling good at the moment and hopefully that will continue." Chadwick looked sharp at Liskeard, but was quick to admit that there is 'still more to come' from him as the new season approaches. "I'm getting stronger by the week," he added. "I've been out for a while, so I know I need to be patient in some of the things I do. That said, the management team have been fantastic with me throughout, as have the lads. The main aim for me at the moment is basically to get myself fully fit and back playing. Scoring goals is always nice. I scored a few goals last pre-season, but I'm a little disappointed to have missed the penalty at Liskeard, and missed the hat-trick. Scoring, though, I don't think will be a problem for us this season. We saw what Barry and Sylvan did last season, plus we've got Rory on board as well and he's flying in pre-season. I'm coming back as well, so between the four of us we can get the goals." Chadwick's comeback, plus Paul Wotton edging closer to his own playing return, is a welcome boost to the Argyle squad, who are sure to be tested this season. "It's going to be tough, it always is," said Chadwick. "You look at some of the money that is being paid out for players at other clubs and you can see how strong the division is going to be. I know we've not made a great deal of changes but, with Wottsie and myself both coming back, that's almost like two new signings for the gaffer. We showed last season that we are a tight group of players and that everyone is willing to work hard for each other out on the pitch. That, plus the ability we have within the squad, are two great assets to have and they are worth their weight in gold. At the end of the day, money can't buy that." Chadwick's return to action was heralded by Ian Holloway. "It's all about character," he said. "Every footballer wants to play; no-one want to be injured. It's not easy. We all have a battle with ourselves, don't we, and it's very difficult when you've had a whole summer in. The more he gets under his belt, the better he is going to be, because we know he can score goals. He's always done that, ever since he was a kid. It would be nice for him to get a run of games without a run of injuries. He certainly deserves it."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has insisted the club's Austrian tour will be no holiday as the team prepare for the new season. Ebanks-Blake joined Argyle last August, just in time to take part in the club's Austrian tour before the start of the 2006/07 season. He said: "I packed a bag and came down here and went over to Austria straight away. It's definitely not a holiday - though I hope the weather is better than it is here. We're going out there to play a few games and work hard, and in the heat it can be difficult. Pre-season is different, because everyone needs to be fit and play games. You want to go out and get match-fit, but as training eases off, you see a difference in the sort of football we play." Tomorrow's friendly against Cambridge United will mean a return to his roots for Ebanks-Blake, who originally hails from Cambridge, but he said he had no real memories from his time with Cambridge United. He said: "It will be interesting to go back, but I wasn't at Cambridge for that long. I was young - 14 to 16 - and I was only there for two years before United came in for me, so I have no great memories from that time. But I have got lots of family and friends in the area, so it will be definitely nice to go back and see them."
Ian Holloway has described as 'unreasonable' the emphasis placed on the outcome of Argyle's pre-season friendlies. He said: "I really can't believe all the attention over our pre-season run of matches. It's becoming more and more difficult for managers and coaches to get players fit and properly prepared if the team are going to come under this sort of scrutiny. We've just introduced a beast of a new regime which is there to get the players fitter, even than last year, for the new season. If the players think it's been hard up to now, then they'd better get used to it as there is another few weeks of it to come yet. Like everyone else with Argyle's best interests at heart, I don't want to lose any of our games. But while we're introducing new methods in training which involves the players being a bit jaded, like they were at Torquay, I think we've got to have a bit of slack over expectations. I mean, if this is what's like in pre-season when nothing, really, rests on how we do - whatever is it going to be like when the season starts?"
Argyle won 5-0 in last night's friendly at Liskeard Athletic, the goals scored by Nick Chadwick (2), Paul Kendall, Rory Fallon and Cherno Samba. Argyle: Saxton, Watts, Laird, Hodges, Timar, Kendall, Reid, Summerfield, Fallon, Dickson, Chadwick. Subs – Moult, Smith, Duggan, Barnes, King, Samba (not used – Misiewicz). After the game Ian Holloway said: "There were a lot of pleasing points to take from tonight. We have tried to give a few a bit of time out there and we've also had a closer look at one of two of the younger lads. The attitude and the commitment was out there tonight, but the hard work will start against Hull City, not now. I'm not going to shout and bawl too much about pre-season and I'm not going to make too many judgements at this time. All I know is everybody is working very hard and the signs we are getting are very promising, especially from the younger fellas." Holloway reserved praise for Nick Chadwick. He said: "Both he and Paul Wotton have worked very hard to get where they are. I'm not surprised he's scored a couple of goals tonight, he looked sharp and we hope he - and all the players - will get even sharper before the start of the season.
Ian Holloway has rubbished speculation he is about to make a bid for Linfield striker Peter Thompson. Holloway was at Windsor Park on Tuesday night to watch Thompson play against Swedish side Elfsborg in the Champions League qualifiers. Holloway said he made it a point of principle not to discuss publicly a player under contract to another club but he acknowledged he was at the game and admitted he had seen 'several very good players in a great game of football'. He said: "Yes, I was at the match but I wasn't there just to watch Thompson. There were other good players involved - on both sides. Anyway, I don't talk publicly about players who are with other clubs - it is disrespectful to them and the team. It was a scouting trip myself and Gary Penrice had pencilled in, as pre-season is about the only time I can get away when my own lads are playing. It was worth going to as I saw several very good players in a great game of football. It's no secret that I'm always looking to strengthen the squad - what football manager isn't? But that doesn't mean I'm unhappy with my players, because I'm not - I'm very happy with them. If I'm not making signings like I was at this stage last year, there's nothing strange going on. When I came here last summer the squad needed strengthening so I brought in players like Barry Hayles and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. And just recently we paid a lot of money for Krisztian Timar and Peter Halmosi. Our strategy now is to bring in players on loan, which may mean that some of our younger ones may get experience on loan at other clubs. But again, there's nothing unusual in doing that."
Ian Holloway missed the win over Yeovil last night as he was away on a scouting mission. Tim Breacker took charge of the side, and was happy with the productivity in Somerset – as well as in training in the past two weeks. "They've taken everything we've tried to do so far on board, and we're really pleased with their attitude," he said. "I'm sure we'll get to where we want to be by the first game of the season. The lads who've been with us for a while know what we're about, and they know what we expect from them." The result last night was pleasing for Breacker, but the physical benefits of the night's work were of more value. "The priority from the word go has been getting fitness," he said. "We felt we've been getting that, and the closer you get to your first competitive game your priorities start to change. We worked very, very hard in our first few weeks, and that showed in our last game on Saturday. We've eased up a little bit this week, and that showed tonight." Argyle's first goal last night was made by Peter Halmosi, and finished off by fellow Hungarian Akos Buzsaky. "We looked like we were going to create things, and we looked a little bit sharper than we did last Saturday," Breacker added. "We felt we opened them up without always being clinical in the final third. We didn't create quite as much as we felt we should have done, considering the amount of play we had, but that will come. The priority is fitness. Those who started tonight played 60 minutes, some of them 90, and that will give them confidence."
Tim Breacker welcomed the return to action of Nick Chadwick last night. He said: "Ever since I have been at the club, he has been unlucky with injuries and I've felt for him. He has worked very hard during the summer, but he will take longer to get his fitness than the other lads who have been doing it for longer, because his levels have gone down because of his inactivity. It was great to see him back - he had a small strain which you expect when somebody has been out for a while."
Argyle won 2-1 in last night's friendly at Yeovil Town, the goals scored by Akos Buzsaky and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Argyle: McCormick, Gosling, Kouo-Doumbe, Seip, Sawyer, Norris, Nalis, Buzsaky, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs – Hodges, Reid, Summerfield, Chadwick, Fallon, Dickson. Att – 2,327
Argyle have added another fixture to the pre-season schedule. They will visit Paulton Rovers on Tuesday, July 31st, as part of the deal that brought striker Ashley Barnes to Home Park
The defeat at Torquay United on Saturday had a silver-lining for Ian Holloway, who was pleased with the performances of Ashley Barnes and Scott Laird. "Barnes is only 17 and it is a bit unfair to judge him on his first pre-season," said Holloway. "Lairdy is coming through but have I made enough room for him? It is all very difficult. Results don't matter at this time of the year, although you don't want to go on a losing run because that will affect confidence, but I benefited at Torquay from seeing Ashley Barnes go on with Barry Hayles with the team 1-0 down. That was irreplaceable for him. These two players are for the future. If, by the end of pre-season, I deem that they might have a squad number and a future, that means I won't be looking to bring in from outside. It is about assessment of people." Holloway used the examples of Dan Gosling and Gary Sawyer as a way of demonstrating to the young members of his squad that they will be given their chance to impress. He said: "I am not about throwing people in when they are not ready. Gos earned the right to be thrown in with the things he had done and he is not far off from making himself a regular in the first team. Gary Sawyer has developed with having real games and I don't think he is the same player who went out on a couple of years ago. He has made some mistakes but he has got stronger and learned his trade. If I can't give them that at my club, then I have to loan them out. We will give everybody a chance here if we can. If not, then I have got to let them go and they will go with my love. We need to involve them in the structure. I have been at clubs where it was a case of them and us - the first team and the youth team, and it was awful. There has to be a progression through your club. I might have to loan three or four of my young ones out this year, like I did at the end of last year. Other ones might be in my team. I will give them until after Austria and that is when you will get some decisions. If Ryan Dickson, for example, has a great tour in Austria, I might keep him in my squad. At the moment I have got Bojan and Halmosi, and I might need to loan Dicko out."
Some of the players out of contract with Argyle next year could leave Home Park - because the club can't afford to re-sign them, according to Ian Holloway. The manager also made it clear that further big-budget signings were out of the question this season. Holloway stressed the importance of developing a sound youth policy at the club and said the door was open for younger players featuring in the pre-season to force their way into his first-team squad. He said: "I haven't really got a main side yet - I want to be fair to players in assessing whether they will be in my squad. We have to be reasonable about this - Birmingham City reserves are being bought for £2million and we are not in that market, although other people in our division can do that. I have 12 players out of contract next year and I haven't got the money to re-sign all of them, so I am going to have to do some wheeling and dealing. I don't anticipate re-signing all of them, so somewhere along the line there will be some new faces." Holloway pointed out that signing a player like Marcel Seip, who joined Argyle on a free, was a rare occurrence. He said: "We are not going to find somebody who we pay very little money for and paying very little wages who is going to take us to the Premiership - you have got to be incredibly fortunate for that to happen. Players like Marcel Seip don't grow on trees - we were very lucky to get him."
Ian Holloway has insisted that Dan Gosling is not going anywhere. The manager quashed newspaper speculation that the club may listen to offers from Premiership sides for the teenager, and said: "It's just speculation. The story isn't true. The rumours about him being unsettled are absolute rubbish. It's so wide of the mark, you wouldn't believe it. The lad is loving it here. If he was at any other club in the Championship, would he have played in the first team? I can tell you, the answer is no. All the other kids in his England side are envious of him playing first- team football." Holloway is tempted to give Gosling further first-team exposure sooner rather than later. He added: "With what Dan's done in training and in the friendlies we've played so far, he's earned every right to play in the first team. He isn't far off making himself a regular on merit. I think he's a real player. I gave him an opportunity in the first team last season, and he grasped it with both hands. He has stepped in and taken his chance, and that's what it's all about. The last thing I want to do is to let somebody go who could get us forward into the Premiership - and the last thing I want to do is to lose a potential asset like Danny Gosling." Gosling's next international assignment is next month, when he will be part of the England squad which goes to South Korea for the Under-17 World Cup. Holloway is not too happy about losing Gosling's services for such a long time. "I cannot say he can't go," he said. "It matters to me big time, him not being able to play for us, and I think it matters to Dan as well, but what can I do?" Holloway made it clear that he did not want to sell off the team's future, even though previously in his managerial career he had sold players in the interests of using the money to reinvest in the team. He added: "I haven't come here to do that - I've come here to build a youth policy and build some structure." Meanwhile, Holloway said he was aware of rumours which have Scott Sinclair joining Charlton Athletic or Cardiff City, and said: "He is going nowhere - our hat is firmly in the ring, but whether we will get him, I don't know."
Ian Holloway will be asking his players to step up their work-rate as their pre-season training programme enters its third week. So far this summer, Argyle have played two friendlies, and Holloway did not ask any of his players to play for more than 45 minutes on either occasion. A similar policy may be used against Yeovil tonight. "It will probably be half and half or thereabouts again in each game this week," Holloway said. "I'll probably start with one team against Yeovil, and they'll probably go through until just after half-time and then I'll put a few of the others on. I'll do the same, but with a different starting XI, down at Liskeard. Everybody should come out of those two games with at least 60 minutes on the pitch." Neither Nick Chadwick nor Bojan Djordjic has been able to play in either of the friendlies so far. Chadwick, who has been bothered by a thigh strain, is closer to a comeback than Djordjic. "Chadwick is having a fitness test today, and he might get the last 20 or 30 minutes against Yeovil," Holloway said. "I don't think Djordjic is going to be available. He's got a foot problem caused by the new orthotics he's been given to solve his Achilles tendon injury." Paul Wotton is making progress towards full fitness, but he is not yet ready for match practice. "I want to be fair to everybody and assess whether or not they're going to be in my squad for next season," Holloway added. "I want to know whether they're up to it. Yeovil is going to be a big test for all of us, and we're going to need to do things better than we did at Torquay on Saturday." The Argyle players looked lethargic at Plainmoor against Torquay, and Holloway put that down to the exertions of their training schedule. "Training will be toned down a little bit, because they could hardly walk on Saturday," he said. "They looked very jaded, but it's all about training at this time of year rather than results. I don't ever judge my players on pre-season matches. It's what they do in the League that matters. At this time of year, you've got to get a lot of work in, and results don't matter." The pursuit of match-fitness will remain the priority tonight and tomorrow. "I'll want the players to gradually extend the time they're doing on the pitch," Holloway added. "They'll do about an hour each this week. They probably won't play 90 minutes in one game until Austria or Bristol Rovers."
Trialist Sebastian Pelzer will not be joining Argyle. Ian Holloway said: "I think Gary Sawyer and Lee Hodges will do me at left-back at the moment. We hoped Pelzer would be that much better than Gary, but I don't think so. I think Gary is almost better than him already." Two other trialists - a right-sided midfielder and a striker - are due to link up with the squad in Austria, but it seems that the pair might have had better offers from elsewhere. "We're hearing all sorts of rumours about the people we thought we had lined up going here, there and everywhere," Holloway said, "so that's a bit disappointing."
Yeovil Town will provide Argyle with their next pre-season challenge, and ahead of the game Ian Holloway said: "Yeovil will be a big test for all of us and we will need to do things better than we did on Saturday. Training will be toned down a little bit because some of them can hardly walk. They were very jaded. Most of them will get about 60 minutes, while the recovering Chadwick will probably get about 20 minutes and then 45. I have brought in the young lads now and they are going to be integrated into everything we do. They will get used to what we are doing and some of them might be lucky enough to go to Austria. The most important thing is how much work we get into them and, hopefully, your legs ease up in the game. It is all about the strength of our squad for next season. I am going to have a good look at our lads in games. Last year, I completely changed the team at half-time against Real Madrid. If it was good enough to do then, it is good enough to do now and look at the start we had last season- it was not too bad at all."
Argyle are opening a new superstore in the Drake Circus shopping mall at the end of July. The shop will be called the Argyle Centre Spot, and will be on the first level of the new shopping precinct. Michael Dunford said: "We are delighted that we now have a permanent presence in Plymouth city centre. If you are going to have a shop anywhere in Plymouth, then it has to be Drake Circus. The addition of a city centre retail unit to our already popular Argyle Superstore at Home Park will help satisfy the demands of the Green Army for Argyle merchandise. It is further evidence of the club's commercial and retail strength." As well as stocking a range of Argyle products, the Centre Spot will also sell tickets for all games, home and away. "For the first time, Argyle fans will be able to buy a ticket for any of our matches without needing to come up to Home Park," added Dunford. The official opening of the store will be carried out by Ian Holloway and members of the first-team squad on Tuesday, July 31st. Also on that day, fans will be able to get their first look at the brand new home and away strips
Ian Holloway was happy with his side's fitness and ready to work on team-work after the defeat to Torquay United yesterday. "We've got to go back to what got us success last year - our team play and our team pattern - we haven't done any of it yet," he said. "We've only worked on fitness and I think it was quite apparent. We had too many people not in the right places; too many people didn't have good games; and we didn't have any thing to fall back on. We might be very fit, but it's about playing football, isn't it? We were here for the right reasons, for Hilly's testimonial - I'm delighted for him - and today they beat us 1-0. They'll be very pleased and I've got to go back to the drawing-board and practice some things we haven't even done yet. Was it a serious thing? I'm not going to lose my life by losing today, but it's not a nice feeling, and not one the lads want to get used to, but well done to Torquay. We lost 1-0 to Bristol Rovers this time last year, but they had a terrible start and we started like a house on fire. This is about the lads getting fit and getting no injuries. We don't like losing but it's something we will have to take home with us today."
Ian Holloway thinks he might have unearthed a new midfield star in Scott Laird, who played in the position in the defeat at Torquay. "He looks natural there," said Holloway. "I thought he was terrific. He wasn't far off one of our best players, to be fair. He even timed a run into the box, which we weren't doing very well, right, and almost got us a goal. He's certainly said 'Ollie, have a look at me' today, hasn't he? I'll be doing that."
Ian Holloway has one aim when the new season kicks off on August 11th. "We have got to get to 50 points as quick as we can," he said. "Simple as that. That's how everybody starts in our division. If anybody tells you any different from that, they're a liar. If we can do that, we can set some new targets." One of the teams that Argyle will be facing is Leicester, who are now being bankrolled by former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric. "I know it's going to be very interesting," Holloway added. "I read something from Mr Mandaric, who's got all sorts of money - he's going to get promoted in three years. He thinks there will be ten teams who can get in the play-offs next year and that Leicester are one of them because of his spending-power, so he obviously doesn't think too highly of us, does he? Year in, year out, we've proved people wrong and I still saw that there today. I saw loads of effort a tad misguided. My job is all about trying to sort that out." Argyle will also be facing the likes of Watford, Charlton and Sheffield United, who are cushioned by parachute payments after being relegated from the Premiership. Holloway said: "We need to get a piece of that as soon as possible - £30m for failing. I'm sure some of us would like that in our job: 'By the way, you were rubbish, and here's £30m to try to re-invest'. It's obscene. We're trying to build a team that didn't need to win today but that can win on a regular basis next year, try and keep us in that division, try and push towards the top six. On today's showing, we've got absolutely chance, but I know a lot better than that."
Argyle lost 1-0 to Torquay in this afternoon's testimonial for Kevin Hill at Plainmoor. Argyle: First half – Larrieu, Connolly, Timar, Kouo-Doumbe, Pelzer, Reid, Buzsaky, Nalis, Dickson, Fallon, Ebanks-Blake. Second half – McCormick, Gosling, Seip, Sawyer, Hodges, Norris, Summerfield, Laird, Halmosi, Barnes, Hayles. Sub – Samba. Att - 3,380
Gordon Bennett was a happy man after Argyle's under-18 side beat Fulham's Academy team 3-1 in yesterday afternoon's friendly. "There is still a lot of work to be done, but for the boys to go away and win at an Academy club is bound to be encouraging for them," said Bennett. The goals were scored by Jarred Stevens and two from Toby Davis
Argyle's home reserve matches next season will all be staged in the afternoon, and the club hopes to play all of them at Home Park. The games will kick-off at 2pm. The club intend to stay at home for the matches, but have reserved the right to move fixtures to Tiverton Town's ground should Home Park be unfit for play
Argyle's win over Weston Super Mare on Wednesday was the perfect start to Argyle's pre-season and Ian Holloway was delighted with performance. However, Torquay United are expected to provide a sterner test tomorrow. Holloway said: "We hardly gave Weston a shot on our goal. We had worked on some defensive things, which was very pleasing. The surface was excellent and the game was played in the right spirit. We did not get any knocks, scored one goal and missed a few other opportunities. I was delighted with the workout." Argyle face Torquay in Kevin Hill's testimonial, and Holloway was full of praise for the midfielder, who has been with Torquay for ten years. "He deserves a good day," he said. "Anybody who has been that loyal to one club deserves it and I will be very proud to take my boys down there. We will use everybody for about 45 minutes and give them another really good run out. We are ahead of where we were this time last year in terms of fitness. There is an awful lot of work to do but we are getting that fitness base into them and they are working very hard for each other. I will be having another meeting with the players today to tell them what I expect from them for the rest of the season." Pre-season preparations will continue when Argyle visit Austria at the end of the month, and Holloway also admitted that he has a lot of decisions to make over the coming months with a large number of his squad running out of contract next year. He said: "We are hoping for some hot weather in Austria and we will be working very hard over there. We will have two games, one of them against Hapoel Tel-Aviv, which will be a very stern test. It is all about building up to the games that matter and that is the ones with three points on them. The other games are just training sessions. We are trying to get some rustiness out of them and assess where we are. I am very optimistic about next year and I am looking to build a squad because we have 12 players from the current group who are out of contract this time next year, so I have got to do some serious planning and some serious talking with the board as to who gets a new contract. We don't want people going out of contract like Tony Capaldi did, so we need to tie them down quicker. We will be trying to get all that sorted out by January. There is an awful lot for me to do this season. I came in last year, jumped around and had loads of enthusiasm. This year I have got to be more calm and calculated, and make sure we get these decisions right."
Ian Holloway liked what he saw when Dan Gosling played at right-back at Weston-super-Mare on Wednesday. "That's been a bit of a problem area for us, when we haven't had Paul Connolly available," he said. "I think Dan is willing to learn, and he showed some marvellous signs, although he doesn't know the position yet. I was very, very pleased with him in the first half." Holloway wants his players to continue their encouraging start to pre-season with another good performance at Torquay United tomorrow. He said: "Torquay is our next game and I'll be looking for exactly the same thing again. Hopefully, we will step it up again. We've got some very good players, so let's see if we can sharpen up. We'll be looking to do that at the weekend." Holloway is likely to field two different teams again tomorrow, as he did on Wednesday
Argyle beat Weston-super-Mare 1-0 last night, the goal scored by Lee Hodges. Ian Holloway played two trialists – a left-back and a centre-back, but declined to identify either of them. The left-back however, is believed to be German Marc-Sebastian Pelzer. Argyle: First half - McCormick, Gosling, Timar, Trialist, Seip, Norris, Buzsaky, Hodges, Dickson, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Second half: Larrieu, Connolly, Trialist, Kouo-Doumbe, Sawyer, Reid, Nalis, Summerfield, Halmosi, Barnes, Fallon
Ian Holloway admitted he would have been happier if his side had scored more than one goal at Weston-super-Mare last night, but thought that the friendly was a good work-out for his squad. He said: "We looked fit, worked hard and had a good attitude. You could not have asked for more." Holloway praised Lee Hodges' goal and said: " Hodgy looked like he was going to pass it to Ryan Dickson, who made a brilliant run down the left, but I'm glad he decided to shoot. We had a couple of chances easier than that, but we couldn't finish them. We created enough chances, but obviously we haven't done any of that type of finishing yet. I thought their goalie, in the first half, made two fantastic saves." Holloway also paid tribute to the attitude of their hosts. He said: "The people here made us welcome and we got exactly what we wanted. They were committed, but nobody did anything stupid and - touch wood - we haven't got any knocks. It was a great surface. I thought it was brilliant. When you turn up at some of these grounds, you don't know what you are going to get and I have to congratulate them - I thought it was absolutely magnificent. I'd like to thank everybody down here. They were very, very welcoming and it's a place we might like to come again." Holloway used the game to experiment with some positional ideas. Dan Gosling played the first half at right-back, while Reuben Reid was used on the wing in the second half. "Right-back has been a bit of a problem area," said Holloway. "I think Gos is willing to learn and he showed some marvellous signs although he doesn't know the position. I was very pleased with him. I've got a glut of strikers, compared to last season, and I thought Reuben's performance was the one of the night. I thought he looked sharp and bright, and so did Rory Fallon - I thought he was very unfortunate with quite a few things. We have got some very good players and we'll be looking to see if we can sharpen up and keep them ticking over. We were a rusty, but that was to be expected. I thought we did well - better than I thought we were going to do, in fact."
Barry Hayles is demanding a tougher mental attitude and more ruthless streak in front of goal from Argyle. Hayles said: "I think we should be looking at breaking into the top 10 and I think a top six finish is possible. But, in order to do that, we need to turn a few of the draws we had last season into wins this time round. The gaffer has said that if we had done that last season and not drawn quite so many games, then we could have got a top six place. Hopefully, we can, if you pardon the expression, kill off teams this season. We had teams by the scruff of the neck - right from the start of the season at home to Wolves. We battered Wolves from start to finish and they ended up coming away with a point, which was frustrating. We should have won that one instead of drawing 1-1 and also in a few others. If we'd done that, I reckon we would have gone on and got into the top eight or six, no problem. Instead, we thought we were happy that we'd reached our level, but I reckon we could have gone a lot higher." Hayles also backed the new fitness programme which Ian Holloway and his coaching staff have introduced. "We had a very similar programme when I was at Fulham, where we trained three times a day," Hayles added. "At Fulham, we did running before the weights and then had training in the afternoon, like we're doing here. But it's been really good and the boys have adjusted well. We're going to be really fit for the season - as we showed last year, where our fitness wasn't a problem."
Ian Holloway will give all his squad a run-out tonight as Argyle begin their pre-season programme at Weston-super-Mare. However, the manager is keen that supporters do not read too much into the club's pre-season friendlies. He said: "No one should judge pre-season game. All they are about is fitness. They are about players getting 45 minutes under their belts. These games do matter in terms of fitness, but not results." Holloway describes tonight's match as a 'training session' - and one which he wants all his squad involved in. The players, though, are certainly looking forward to returning to action. Barry Hayles said: "We've had a really tough 10 days and I'm sure the boys will be glad to be pulling on the boots and having a kick around. These games give us match sharpness and getting the turning going. You always want to do well pre-season because it often bodes well for the season ahead. But teams like Weston will be looking to make it difficult for us - it's like a cup-tie to them. However, you do expect to win against a lower-league team where our fitness and our ability with the ball should come through." Holloway is expected to give one or more trialists a run out during tonight's game
Luke McCormick is backing Argyle to become serious contenders to win promotion to the Premiership next season. He said: "I think being underdogs quite suits us, to be honest. If no-one is expecting much from us then that's quite a good thing. We showed last season, particularly, in the FA Cup, that we came through the early rounds quietly. If we can do the same in the league next season, that'll do us - we don't want to sing and shout about how good we are. We'll just get it done, hopefully. You can never really tell in this league what's going to happen but I think it's going to be very tough again. Although Sunderland, Birmingham and Derby have gone up, they've been replaced by equally good teams in Charlton, Watford and Sheffield United. Plus, there's a lot of teams who finished below us last season who are throwing a lot of money around. But having said that, I think that the way thinks have been set up for us, there's no reason why we shouldn't have a right good go next season."
Both Rory Fallon and Luke McCormick have given Argyle's new pre-season fitness programme a thumbs-up. McCormick said: "I think the training's been really good since we came back. But it's pre-season training like I've never done before, to be honest. I think everybody came back in pretty good shape knowing how tough this was going to be. Obviously, with 7,30am starts what we've been doing is a lot different. But I can't fault all the planning and organisation that's gone into it - it's been spot-on. We start with a weights programme, after which we have breakfast. And then at half-ten we do running and abdominal work with Maxie. Then in late afternoon we do ball work, so there's really a lot of thought gone into it. There hasn't been too many of the long runs which we've been used to before in pre-season. While it's hard work, you get time to recuperate and I'm already feeling the benefit of it. I think all the boys are enjoying the experience. It's very, very professional around the club at the moment - and they have taken it to the next level." Fallon said he had not been perturbed either by the fitness regime. "Oh, it's fine, I always wake up really early anyway," he said. "When I go back to New Zealand, I train with my dad from 7am-8am. It's quite a long day from 7.30am until we finish about 5.30pm. But it's good because we get a lot in. We start off with the weights, then have a break and then go running and start training at about 4pm. But the team have looked pretty fit coming back from holidays. Everyone's looking good."
Rory Fallon is looking forward to the challenge of securing a regular place in the Argyle line-up next season. Fallon insists he brings more to the table than just being a target man, and he said: "I'm an old-fashioned target man, so a whole lot of crosses into the box will suit me. However, I feel I've also got more to my game than just heading balls and that I provide a lot for the team. I've definitely got to fight for my place, there are a lot of strikers here. But I don't mind having to do that - I think it's better that way. To be honest, though, I'm really just looking forward to the new season. With me, the harder I train the more I get out of football. So, I need to do well in pre-season and get really fit. Because that's when I'm at my best, when I'm at my fittest. I was fit enough when I came to Argyle, but there was a lot of stuff mentally going on which happens when you change clubs. You're not in your full flow. Whereas now if I do well in the games coming up, I know I can get in the team. It's good for me to start from scratch again for another season. But I'm glad I came to the club at the time I did because I got to know all the boys. And now it's time for business." Despite his lack of first-team action, Fallon does not feel he requires constant reassurance from Ian Holloway. "I'm not really one to knock on the manager's door," he said. "I'm just one of those players who keep their mouths shut and get on with it."
Gary Sawyer made no attempt to disguise his pride and delight after being awarded an improved contract with Argyle. "It's an amazing thing, really," he said. "I always felt in my heart that I could make the grade here. But you need to be able to prove it when you get given your chance. It's just fantastic to get given games at this level. I've just got to keep grafting and get as many games as I can under my belt, really. I had two years left on my contract, but to be given an extra year on top of that shows they believe in me. It's just nice to be able to sign a contract like that in the Championship when you're young." Sawyer is proud that he is close both to his family and his roots, and makes a point of returning to north Devon whenever he is given the opportunity. He said: "My mum and dad come down and see me at every home game. Hopefully, they will come and see a couple of the away games next season as well. When I get days off, I'll shoot home and see them. It's nice and I like to stay quite close to my family. It's the only place that I can really relax. I can go back home and all my mates take me for who I am and who I was when I was at school. They're all over the moon that I'm at this level, but I'm not the sort of lad who's going to go bragging about things - I don't like that. I've been in teams when people have been like that, but here, thankfully, all the lads are level headed. We've got some big players here who have played in the Premiership. And also young lads who are coming up and hope to get in the Prem one day. It's just a great team to be in."
Nick Chadwick has spoken of his determination to make up for lost time and fight to regain his place in the Argyle line-up after enduring a seven-month injury nightmare. He said: "It's been tough - it seems a long time, but it's good to be back with the lads. I've spent seven months getting over it, and now I'm just looking forward to the pre-season programme. That was all I thought of all summer. I'm just as fit as everybody else in the squad at the moment. I'm raring to go and, touch wood, the problems are completely behind me. I've worked really hard all summer to get where I am now. I know I've got to work just as hard again to get to peak fitness. I'm only halfway there, but that feels good. It feels like a fresh start for me this season, which is great." Chadwick last played competitively in November, and after a stop-start recovery programme, finally opted to go under the knife. He admitted he now wishes he had decided on an operation earlier. He said: "I thought it was a fairly minor groin strain when I did it in the Coventry game last year. I came back and played at Crystal Palace but it still wasn't right. I played on for five more games, but it was still niggling away so I came out of training again. I was advised to take six weeks' rest, which I did, and then start my rehabilitation. I thought I'd got over it, but I started feeling it again at the end of rehab when I started doing ball work. When I started kicking the ball, there was no power whatsoever and it was painful. The running wasn't so bad, but what takes you from 80 per cent fit to 100 per cent was the part I was struggling with. It kept flaring up, so then I was advised to take 10 weeks off and have almost complete rest. It was frustrating, because I was back at square one. Finally, when there were only four or five weeks of the season left, I knew that it had to be sorted. I went to see a specialist in Bolton and he said he could do the operation and he could guarantee I would be fit for the start of this season. Rather than run the risk of it dragging on into this season, I thought I'd get it sorted once and for all, and that's what I did. With hindsight, yes, I wish I'd had the op straight away, and I would have been back by the end of last season, but you can only go on the advice of the specialists. The scans weren't showing too much damage, and the advice was that rest would cure it. That might have been the case with some people, but with me it didn't." Chadwick's target is a place in Argyle's starting line-up at Hull City on August 11th. "I know I'm going to have to compete for a place, I've already got my head round that," he added. "There's no way I've lost that fight and that desire to be part of the team."
Ian Holloway has revealed the foreign trialist who has been training with Argyle this week is an attacking full-back. Holloway has been hugely impressed with what he has seen so far, and a contract offer could soon be on the table. He said: "I'm not being funny but I don't want to give his name out yet. Position-wise, he is an overlapping, attacking full-back. I'm trying to impress on him how good we are. It's more than likely that he's going to be good enough for us. Hopefully, I will have the chance to lure him here. I'm very impressed with what he has done so far." Argyle will have two more foreign trialists with them at their pre-season training camp in Austria later this month. According to Holloway, one of them is a 'flying right winger' and the other is a 'centre-forward who can score goals with his eyes shut'. Holloway admitted he was shopping overseas for players because the transfer fees in this country were prohibitive. "The English market is getting very expensive,"he said."I believe the prices people are asking are absolutely ludicrous." Meanwhile, Holloway has revealed all of Argyle's first team squad will be involved in the first two pre-season friendlies next week. He said: "We will be playing everybody we have got and they will be playing for 45 minutes. And we will probably be using two different systems in those games. What I might do is take one player off and leave us with 10 men for short whiles, just to get used to it. I'm not being funny or belittling our opponents. We will be preparing for all sorts of scenarios."
Dan Gosling has been included in England's provisional squad of 30 players for next month's FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Korea
Ian Holloway is planning a calmer approach next season. He was disappointed with the number of silly bookings his players picked up last season and he is looking to set a new example. He said: "I am not going to be jumping around on the sidelines. It is not that I have lost my passion. I just think we had too many petulant bookings and I have to lead by example. I have to learn to control myself with the fourth official. I shall be buying him a sandwich and a cup of tea instead of screaming at him. Sometimes as a leader, you have got to lead by example."
Ian Holloway has underlined the importance of Gary Penrice in the club's pursuit of future success. Penrice's main responsibility as chief scout is to recommend potential transfer targets to Holloway, and that will remain the case. But Holloway also wants Penrice to work with Argyle's strikers from time to time - in particular Rory Fallon - to develop their potential. Holloway said: "Gary Penrice is out and about all the time. He has done very well for me, I have to say. He's going to be coming down in the next couple of weeks with some of our strikers. I have given him the DVDs of nearly every game last season and there are one or two things he wants to talk about, particularly with Rory about what a number nine should be, rather than a number 10." Penrice, though, will not travel to Austria on the pre-season tour. Holloway said: "His job is quite simple. He has got to replace every single player I have got. That might sound harsh, but he needs to be able to do that and bring me better. Then if I get offers (for players) from somebody, sometimes it makes sense to take £4 million for someone and then spend £300,000 on someone else and work with them, like Charlton have done over the years. I'm not saying we are going to be a selling club. We are not that at all. What we are trying to do is be a sensible club. I need to be very diligent and Penny needs to be out there looking because I could need a load of new players by the end of next season." Penrice has already recommended 'five or six' young Premiership players who could be available for loan moves next season, and Holloway added: "Obviously, we are not going to take all of them, but I need competition for places in a few areas. I don't think you would have to be a genius to see that Paul Connolly has had the monopoly at right-back. Marcel Seip could play there, Mattie Doumbe has played there and I might adapt Dan Gosling to play there. It's about having strength in depth." Meanwhile, Holloway confirmed Argyle's five new first-year professionals will not be training with the senior squad until after they return from Austria. "They haven't earned that right yet," he said. "They have got to show me a good attitude, training with the young fellas, and we will see." Holloway added: "Our ambition is to try to get through pre-season without any injuries whatsoever, unless it's a knock. You can't control that."
Kevin Gallen has turned down a move to Argyle, in favour of the closer-to-home MK Dons. Ian Holloway has admitted that missing out on the striker was a disappointing blow. Argyle offered a one-year deal to Gallen, but he opted to take the two-year contract on offer in Milton Keynes instead. "It was probably more geographical than anything else I would say," said Holloway. "They have offered him two years, which I was not prepared to do at this moment in time. Obviously, he has got to look after his family. I am disappointed because he is a good player but I am pleased we made him an offer and made him think." Holloway has been discussing different options with Gary Penrice, but he did concede that there are not many players with similar attributes to Gallen. Holloway said: "Gary and I have discussed it for quite a while and, unfortunately, there are not may of Kevin's type around. He could have covered a number of different areas for us. He is a very intelligent, clever footballer with a lot of guile. He comes off in little pockets and holes. He sees little gaps that other people don't see and we will have a look for that type of player. We will also be looking at some of the ones we have got and see if they can do that job as well. It has left me with a slight problem but we have got a good number of players this year. It was certainly not like this last year. I enjoyed working with Kevin. He is a fantastic player, a great person and there are no hard feelings. I played with him for a number of years and I always felt he should have played at a higher level than he did."
Gary Sawyer has agreed a new three-year deal with Argyle. Sawyer celebrated his 22nd birthday today by signing an improved contract that will see him remain at Home Park until the summer of 2010. Ian Holloway said: "I think Gary Sawyer is going to be an outstanding young gentleman and an outstanding young player. I don't see anything stopping him being a top-level player. He's quick, he's hungry and, for someone who is not the tallest, he's great in the air. He can play at left-back or as a left-sided centre-back, and I think he could maybe even play the holding role in midfield. I like everything about him. He's an absolutely top-class young gentleman. I never pull any punches or tell any lies. I'm very proud of him and so should his family. I know they are."
Ian Holloway has promised to push his Argyle squad to their limits during pre-season training. He is determined to drum into his squad the importance of staying in peak physical condition at all times, and yesterday said: "It's not all about what you spend, it's what you do. I want Premier League thinking at this football club, on and off the pitch, and hopefully we can get that. I want to get the lads realising this is part of their job. Today, they started at half-past seven and they finished at half-past-five. It's welcome to the real world, I'm afraid. I have met a lot of lovely people in Plymouth who have got to work a lot harder for a lot less money than these earn. I'm going to guarantee those people out there that we will get value for money." Holloway had no complaints about the fitness levels of any of the players after their summer break, but did reveal that one of them had not turned up on time on Monday, although he did not name the culprit. "We have just had one slight misdemeanour where someone didn't turn up," he said. "We have all got to be on the ball because no-one is more important than what we are trying to achieve. I'm saying that to everybody. It's onwards and upwards, and we are getting there." Since pre-season training last year, Holloway has added Tim Breacker and Gary Penrice to his staff and seen the club install a players' gym at Home Park. He believes those have been important strides to take. Holloway said: "I have managed to get the staff and the equipment I wanted, which I didn't have last summer, so, hopefully, we can get the players used to adapting their lives to what we want." The Argyle squad were on a day off today, but they will be hard at work tomorrow. There is a golf day at Elfordleigh on Friday before the players resume their new training regime on Saturday. Holloway added: "We are just gradually integrating them into it. When you are working on your body you actually gain a lot more belief mentally because you know how much you are doing and how strong you are getting. It's a very time-consuming thing and it takes some planning to get it all in. Our games are going to be what we focus on, but anybody who is in my squad will be much better and much stronger by the time they have finished this season. I have guaranteed them that. So that's what this week is all about. It's getting them used to it, and getting used to the rules. It shouldn't be hard to get 20-odd people somewhere on time, all together, but it is sometimes, so we have got to make sure they do that. We have to be able to rely on them, week in week out. And they have got to be able to rely on each other. I'm delighted with the training so far, and I have got to thank Marjons for letting us use their facilities."
Paul Wotton is back from injury and is taking part in the club's pre-season training. Wotton though, is still unlikely to be fully fit for the start of the season next month. Nick Chadwick has also successfully returned to training after a groin operation at the end of March. Ian Holloway was fulsome in his praise for both Chadwick and Wotton, and the work they have put in during the close season. He said: "They have been in all summer and I'd like to give them a special mention. They've worked so hard behind the scenes but you don't even realise it. So has Paul Maxwell, who has had a back injury. I don't think I have ever seen Nick looking as fit as he is now, and that's full credit to him I'm happy with what we've got, compared to this time last year." Argyle currently have one foreign trialist training with them, whom Holloway has high hopes for. He will not name the player because he does not want to alert other clubs to his availability. That situation could change soon as the trialist has already impressed Holloway in the first two days of pre-season training. Meanwhile, Holloway is awaiting the outcome of talks with Kevin Gallen over a possible move to Argyle. Holloway said: "It's down to him to decide, but I think he covers all sorts of areas. I think he gives us something that, possibly, we might not have. If it happens then great, if not we will move on. I'm a great admirer of his, and I think I'm someone he feels he can learn a bit from." Gallen is thought to have other offers on the table which are closer to his home in London, and that could be a factor. Holloway added: "Kevin's brothers have both had to retire through bad backs and, obviously, with our exceptional amount of travelling, we have had to be careful with his situation. All I do know is that he trusts how I train people, and he trusts that I can get him fit. I would only give him a short-term contract because of his age. It's whether that suits him and his family situation. We are trying to get to that point. Whether we do or not, who knows?"
Kevin Gallen is ready to make a decision on his future after returning from holiday. Michael Dunford said: "We have had initial talks with the player and his representative. He has only just got back from holiday and I wouldn't anticipate hearing anything more until the middle of the week." Meanwhile, Ian Holloway has dismissed speculation linking him with centre-back Clarke Carlisle. He said: "It's absolute rubbish. As far as I'm concerned I have got some decent centre-halves. His name hasn't even popped into my thoughts at all."
Nine youngsters with the aim of becoming the next generation of Argyle first-team players were unveiled by the club yesterday. The teenagers have joined up with the second-year players to make a seventeen-strong Argyle under-18 squad. Head of youth development Gordon Bennett believes sides in Argyle's situation rely heavily on discovering and nurturing their own talent. And he believes the youngsters possess the ability to join the paid ranks. "They've been here for one week, but it's customary at most clubs to have the apprentices in earlier than the first team," he said. "We selected these new nine boys when Mike Pejic and myself came to Argyle in February. We looked at them very carefully over a two-week period and there are several lads among the group who have a lot of potential if they apply themselves. They're all 16 years old and a have got a two-year apprenticeship which will include continuing their academic studies to safeguard their futures through education. They'll be training three and a half days a week and going to college one and a half days a week. Mike and myself realised that the future destiny of Plymouth Argyle is very much in the hands of what we do with this group of young players - and with the successive generation of schoolboys which are already in the pipeline coming through. We're also trying to expand our scouting network to enhance this over the coming years."
Ian Holloway has insisted the lack of transfer activity at Home Park this summer has been because of the confidence he has in his squad. Holloway said: "I have assessed the whole squad and if it's not broken I don't need to fix it. I have got some very promising young fella's coming through who have got half a chance of becoming regulars in the first team, like Gary Sawyer did last season. I quite like what we have got here and the last thing I want to do is block them up with overpaid mercenaries who travel all over the country picking up money. But if you aren't careful, that's what you could end up with. I was fortunate when I took over last summer that Tony Pulis had got us out of that scenario. We had thrown money at some players from Scottish clubs who weren't any better - in fact they were worse - than the players we already had. I don't want us to go down that road again. Whether there will be any more signings before the season starts we will have to wait and see, but I don't want to throw away money on players who just aren't worth it." Some fans might have hoped for more new recruits after the signings of Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar in May, but Holloway responded by saying: "There hasn't been a lot of activity because I don't think we really need it. We have broken our transfer record, and that's a milestone. We paid £300,000 for Rory Fallon in January and have since spent £400,000 on Peter Halmosi. We have broken our record twice in a few months and I think that speaks volumes for what we are trying to do." Meanwhile, Holloway revealed he has spent the summer trying to find permanent accommodation in Plymouth. He said: "We are still trying to find a property down here and it's proving very difficult. I have been spending a lot of time on that, and we have had to move out of our rented house as well. The people we were renting off wanted their house back, which was very inconsiderate of them," he joked. "That has been a bit of a problem and I haven't even been away. I just switched my phone off for a while."
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